‘Tis the season to be jolly, but Philly will only be so if the Eagles somehow get by with a win in a do-or-die matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas stands as the major roadblock between the Birds and the playoffs. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the game’s playoff implications a bit later. And, with the winter season in full swing, we spoke with our medical reporter Stacey Burling. She gave us useful reminders to protect your health during this time of the year.

Tauhid Chappell (morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

The week ahead

  • If the Eagles beat the Cowboys, they still have to beat the Giants or have Dallas lose to Washington in the last game of the season. A loss for the Eagles would mean the end for their playoff hopes. This is no easy game, and elimination this year after a tumultuous season that started off with high hopes could mar the nascent legacy of coach Doug Pederson. The game kicks off at 4:25 p.m.

  • If you’re sticking around town this Christmas, here’s a useful guide of all the shops and restaurants that will still keep their lights on. If you’re feeling extra festive and want to brave the cold, there’s a plethora of holiday events happening in our region to enjoy.

  • With the end of the year approaching, we’ve curated some of our most popular stories that readers like you read, shared, and talked about on social media — from Glen Mills to Johnny Doc. Look for that tomorrow.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Stacey Burling

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with Stacey Burling, who covers aging, caregiving, neurology and dementia, and more general medical trends.

As a medical reporter, what kinds of stories or issues capture your attention?

I’m most interested in stories about complex medical trends that affect patients or medical providers on a personal level. I’m also interested in educating readers about medical problems that affect large numbers of people as they age, particularly issues like, say, hair loss in women, that people don’t talk about much. My primary responsibility is to cover aging. That’s a broad beat, because many conditions disproportionately affect older people.

Part of your work covers general medical trends, what’s a big trend that you think will become more evident in 2020?

I think personalized treatments based on genetic differences and interventions will continue to grow in importance. From a policy standpoint, the cost of medical care and access to good insurance will continue to be hot topics.

Part of your recent coverage focused on the flu and flu season. What are some things that you think readers should be aware of when it comes to the flu this time of the year?

This is pretty much the stuff we say every year. The shot won’t give you the flu. The shot isn’t perfect, particularly for the elderly, but it can keep you from getting really sick even if it doesn’t prevent flu completely. Even if you think you don’t need a shot, you may be helping your grandmother or a new baby in the family. Beyond that, wash your hands a lot and stay home from work or school when you’re sick.

What’s one issue related to medicine that you think needs more of a spotlight?

Medicine is a huge field. We can’t possibly cover it all. I wish we had more time to cover medical training, why our medical care is structured the way it is, why so many Americans still have chronic, preventable illnesses and gaps in care for the seriously mentally ill. On my own beat, the biology of aging is an interesting research area.

Fill in the blank: Readers should reach out and contact me if________.

They are experiencing a problem as a caregiver or patient that they think will resonate with other readers, they’re involved in a creative program that is changing and improving care for middle-aged and older adults, they have a compelling story to tell about how medical care affected them emotionally, they know about a trend in the delivery of medicine or senior care that we haven’t already written about that is affecting quality and/or cost.

Stay in touch with Stacey by following her on Twitter at @StaceyABurling or by emailing sburling@inquirer.com.

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Comment of the week

Fantastic story on all parts, particularly Ms Turner for letting nothing stand in her way — Some Guy, on A homeless Camden mom worked all year to buy a house. Then volunteers surprised her by filling it with furnishings.

Your Daily Dose of | The UpSide

Damian Smith grew up around art, but once his father handed him a skateboard, he lost touch with his hobby. After a successful, albeit painful, career in skateboarding, he’s retired his board and has picked up the painter’s brush yet again — and with it, has taken his production outside the studio. The approach has given him a number of unique interactions with everyday Philadelphians.